I read this remarkable landmark sci-fi novel all over again immediately after I finished it, which is exceedingly rare for me. I simply wasn’t satisfied with my first reading, which happened in short bursts separated by long periods of time; this is a kind of richly detailed and imaginative book that’s best appreciated by immersing yourself into it for a while.
Science fiction is a perfect medium for exploring “what if” scenarios, and the thought experiment in The Left Hand of Darkness goes like this: what would a human society look like if people had no fixed gender, and male/female dualism didn’t exist?
Time for some classic French literature! I first read Guy de Maupassant while still in Russia, and the worn-out collection of his short stories was one of the few books I took with us when we emigrated to Australia. In addition to being one of the greatest short story writers of all time, during his tragically brief time on earth (42 years to be exact) Maupassant also penned a few novels, which I never got around to reading in either language. Published in 1885, Bel-Ami is his second novel. I still think that Maupassant’s short stories are the best display of his strengths as a writer, but I very much enjoyed this book.